We had the good fortune of connecting with Sandra Neumann Wilderman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sandra, what habits do you feel helped you succeed?
I feel the habits that helped me succeed as a teaching artist include being well organized and adapting my lesson plans to keep the class interesting and challenging for those who have been taking my classes for years. Also, my adaptability to teach in my home, in my students’ homes, in a retail store class room, at a senior center and at an adult recreation center. Being able to share my experiences and knowledge, as a professional artist, with my students. I feel my enthusiasm for creating art is contagious and I enjoy seeing students get excited about a successful painting or when they have an “aha” moment. And finally, I tell my students I do not want them to paint like me and encourage them to develop their own style.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been painting for 30 years and creating art full time for the past 19 years. Since 2008, I have also been teaching painting classes and private lessons, until March, 2020 when the places I taught at closed due to the pandemic. I started teaching my first virtual painting class in September, I am currently, teaching two classes, Beginning and Continuing Watercolor and in January I will also teach a virtual Acrylic class. In May, 2019, I had 33 paintings in a solo exhibition titled, Circle of Life, at the Herberger Theater Center Gallery in Phoenix, Arizona. The series was inspired by life and represented by personal symbolism and nature. I have included birds and insects in my art for the past 10 years because I am fascinated by their behavior, inspired by their beauty and determined to capture their essence. In September, 2019, I attended an invitational Artist Retreat with three of my artist friends and 90 other artists, at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, where one of my favorite artist lived, Georgia O’Keeffe. The week long retreat was hosted by Eric Rhoads, the publisher of Plein Air Magazine. In November 2020, my painting, Nature in Motion, was accepted into my first virtual art exhibition titled, Greater Phoenix, Greater Together. You can view the exhibition on the Greater Phoenix Economic Council website through December 31, 2020. Some of the lessons I leaned along the way are: Everything happens for a reason and everything I’ve done has prepared me for where I am today. That the highest form of wisdom is kindness and to express gratitude and let people know you appreciate them. The most challenging life lesson for me was Forgiveness and it took the pandemic to help me realize that life is too short and forgiving others is liberating.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
When it comes to eating out, I would take my friend to the following restaurants: Olive & Ivy Restaurant & Marketplace, Kona Grill Kitchen, Postino Wine Cafe’ and The Keg Steakhouse, where we could sit out on the patios, while enjoying our meal. In addition to the restaurants mentioned, I would also take my friend to Brio Italian Grille for drinks during Happy Hour. While she is here, we would visit the Heard Museum, The Musical Instrument Museum, Butterfly Wonderland, Camelback Mountain, Celebration of Fine Art and the Phoenix Art Museum. Two of my favorite places, to hangout and enjoy our amazing Arizona weather, are the Desert Botanical Garden and the Thursday Night Gallery Walk in the Scottsdale Arts District.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I dedicate my success and where I am in life to my husband, Robert Wilderman. Thanks to his love and support and for making it possible for me to go back to College full time, to pursue my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. He continues to encourage me and is my biggest champion. I also, want to recognize Diana Meyer, Senior Recreation Coordinator at the Pyle Adult Recreation Center in Tempe, Arizona, for asking me if I would teach a virtual painting class via Zoom. Thanks to her and Amy Bowman, Assistant Recreation Coordinator, at the Center, I taught my first virtual class in September, 2020. They went to great lengths to set up everything I needed, to teach the virtual class, and provide me with ongoing tech support.
Images of Artwork: Neil Koppes Image of me teaching virtual class: Amy Bowman Image of me with painting: Robert Wilderman